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PM defends demonetisation timing, Oppn begs to differ

Giving a new turn to his demonetisation decision, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday asserted that the timing for it was the "best" as the economy was doing well and needled Congress by questioning its record with regard to various issues.

Modi, who has been under sustained attack from Congress and other opposition parties, gave reasons for the first time for the timing of the decision to scrap old notes of Rs 500 and Rs 1000 in November last year.

Replying to a debate in Lok Sabha on the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address which was adopted by the House later amid walkout by Congress, he replied point-by-point to the issues raised by the Opposition, including surgical strikes and allocations for MNREGA, agriculture sector and for Scheduled Castes. Opposition had moved 189 amendments to the Motion which were negated.

In his 90-minute speech, which was punctuated by protests by some Opposition members at certain points, Modi also raised pitch for simultaneous elections to Lok Sabha and Assemblies, asking all parties to consider the proposal, rising above political considerations as "everybody will face some difficulty" if it is implemented.

He took swipes at Congress and particularly targeted Rahul Gandhi for his "earthquake" remark, saying it has finally occurred as he referred to last night's tremors in north India.

On demonetisation, the Prime Minister said, "Some people have said why was this (demonetisation) decision taken when the economy was doing well...It was the best time for demonetisation as the economy was strong. Had the economy been weak, then we could not have done it successfully."

Congress hit back by dubbing Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech in LokSabha as "arrogant and revengeful" and said he lost a good opportunity to present his vision for the country, even as Rahul Gandhi hit back at him for "mocking" the Uttarakhand quake issue and "insulting" the freedom struggle.

Gandhi also said the Prime Minister, in his reply to a debate on the Motion of Thanks on President's address to the joint sitting of Parliament, did not answer opposition's questions on demonetisation.

The Congress vice president also took a dig at Modi over his "surgery" remarks on economy, saying "a quack endangers life".
"The Prime Minister mocks the tragedy of Uttarakhand and insults the freedom struggle but has no answers to the opposition's questions," he tweeted.

Gandhi said this after the Prime Minister took a jibe at him in Parliament, saying "The earthquake has finally occurred" while referring to last night's tremors in Uttarakhand.

Meanwhile, opposition partieson Tuesday trained their guns at the government over the demonetisation issue accusing it of ignoring the woes of the common man, as well as the farmers and the small and medium industries.
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